Local Health Care Costs among Lowest in U.S

By Montgomery, Jeff | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), April 25, 2016 | Go to article overview

Local Health Care Costs among Lowest in U.S


Montgomery, Jeff, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Dubuque's health care costs are among the lowest in the country, and patients using Medicare and private insurance plans are both benefiting from the savings.

Patients in Dubuque who are on Medicare pay the fifth-lowest health care rates in the U.S., according to an analysis of per- capita costs in 306 health care markets. For those on private insurance plans, the Dubuque market has the ninth-lowest rates in the country.

The rankings are part of a recently released study conducted by researchers from Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University and the London-based Centre for Economic Performance.

Officials at Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque and UnityPoint Health- Finley Hospital agreed that collaboration and effective care management are the driving forces behind the ability to keep costs low.

"I think the Dubuque medical community has a history of working very closely together to address and coordinate care of patients," said Finley President and CEO David Brandon. "Throughout our history, at least going back 20 or 30 years, we have been a low- cost provider in comparison to other markets in the Midwest."

But while low costs might seem commonplace to local officials, data indicates the across-the-board affordability of health care in Dubuque is rare.

In the study, researchers utilized a database created by Health Care Cost Institute to study the relationship between Medicare and private insurance costs. They concluded there was "a low correlation" between the two.

In Madison, for instance, spending on Medicare is the 27th- lowest in the country. But patients on private insurance pay the 33rd-highest rates.

Kay Takes, president of Mercy Medical Center, said what truly makes the Dubuque market impressive is a combination of affordability and quality.

"I think the message to take away from these numbers is really what an incredible value health care services are (in this community)," she said. "Not only are we lower cost, but we also have excellent quality. You don't want to have low costs without excellent quality."

Keeping costs low

When it comes to controlling costs, collaboration within a medical organization is key, officials said.

For a patient getting knee surgery, for instance, Finley would strive to do more than just the surgery itself, Brandon said. …

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